Alright, I admit it: The American remake of Being Human? It’s not terrible. In fact, I kind of really dig it.
I expected to hate it. Because the original BBC version? I’m in love. IN LOVE. I love the cast, I love the writing, I love the stories and the humour and the heart and the drama. On top of that, I find that when I’m watching a show based on previous material, I end up yelling at the screen a whole lot; just ask True Blood. On any given Sunday during the summer you can hear my wails on the evening wind, “WHAT?! THAT IS NOT HOW IT HAPPENS!! AND THAT IS NOT HOLLIE GOD DAMMIT! HOLLIE IS 25 AND HOT, NOT FORTY AND BUSTED! AND WHAT DID YOU DO TO THE QUEEN?! UGH!!”
Watching the premiere of Being Human (US) was not without its curses to the heavens. And the show itself is still having some growing pains. My complaints thus far include, but are not limited to:
* The vampire lead looks like a caveman
One is a sexy, Irish bad boy; the other looks like he should be selling me Geico auto insurance.
* British secondary characters > American secondary characters
Ray? He’s no Tully. And Tony? Can’t even BEGIN to compare to Gilbert (Oh, how I loved Gilbert…) Nora is pretty decent, but she needs to nut up if she wants to compare to Nina. I don’t think I would mind so much if we got any new characters; instead of retreads of the incredible British characters they can never hope to live up to. I sure hope they don’t ever try to take on Vincent…
And it’s not limited to the characters either. They cleverly combined the original unreleased pilot with bits from the first episode of Series 1 of the UK version, but then took other stories from the first season and completely bastardized them. They manage to keep the bare bones of the original stories (Sally meets another ghost, starts to figure out her death, Aidan befriends a neighbour kid, Josh falls for a nurse,) but somehow sap all the charisma and charm out of those stories and characters. I’m not sure if it’s because everyone is more charming when they’re British, but I am sure that I get a little bummed every time I’m watching and I know where the story is going. Because I know that it won’t live up to the original episode. And I know, I started this by saying I hate when adaptations stray too much from the source material. But Being Human (US) has committed the ultimate sin – trying to keep the original stories without actually keeping the original stories. Go big or go home, people! Be original, or stay true to the source material, but if you try too much to do both you’re just going to annoy people. Mainly, me.
* They changed the ghost character too much
I can’t go into detail explaining this one too much without potentially ruining either version of the show for people. I will say that in the original series, Annie the ghost wasn’t strictly invisible all the time. She was also capable of touching things and getting hugs and moving items. And Sally is a much angstier ghost than Annie ever was. Annie was cheerful, and happy-go-lucky, almost annoyingly so (almost, but not quite.) Sally? MUCH more annoying. I’ll give her time to grow on me though…
It doesn’t sound like I’m a fan, right? However, it has now been 2 months and I think I need to finally admit it: I am no longer watching the remake to compare it derisively to the original British program and to lord my superiority over anyone I might meet who watches the new version (“Oh, you like Sally? Annie is so much better. Also, it bugs me that no one can see her but her roommates. It wasn’t like that in the British version! And that was kind of a really big plot point! But you know, whatever, I don’t wanna ruin this version for you…”) It has become clear to me now, I am watching this version because I actually enjoy it. How did that happen?!
I blame it on Sam Huntington. In truth, he was one of the main reasons I even bothered to give the American version a shot. I remember when I heard they were remaking it, my first thought was “How are they ever going to find someone to play George, the adorable and neurotic werewolf?! Sexy vampire leads are a dime a dozen, but Russell Tovey is a one in a million find!” And then I heard Sam Huntington was cast and my immediate reaction was, “YES. That would work.”
I remember going to see Jungle 2 Jungle – in theatres, no less! – when I was 13. It was Sam Huntington’s first feature film and I went purely because Tiger Beat (or maybe it was Bop?) told me to; and I did everything the teen magazines told me to. I remember when he showed up on Veronica Mars 7 years later, how adorable I thought he was and how excited I was to see him again. By the time I saw Fanboys 3 years ago, I was officially a fan. And As far as I’m concerned, his Josh is the heart and soul of the show. Vampire with a crisis of conscience? Been there, done that. Whiny ghost girl who can’t move on? BO-RING. But a gifted, smart young man, a medical student with a fiancée and a future and endless potential, suddenly having to give up everything in his life after he’s attacked by a werewolf? A sweet, gentle man who hates what he is, hates that he can’t control it, and forced against his will to be something violent and dangerous once a month? Now THAT is interesting.
I now find myself anxiously awaiting new episodes. I long for more lines that make me actually laugh out loud like, “I’ll crap rainbows, I swear to God!” (My new favourite catchphrase) or the growing chemistry between the leads – I wasn’t feeling it at first, but week to week I can see them gelling, see that bond that makes the original three so precious to me. I look forward to more scenes with Mark Pellegrino, who plays a bad guy like no one else can, and an explanation to episode 7’s ending (Seriously – WHAT WAS IN THAT BARN?! A rare moment unrelated to the original source material that I’m actually excited for and intrigued about.)
Do I recommend the remake? Yes. And no. It’s complicated. I feel like if you watch the original, you’re going to struggle with the remake. But you can’t only watch the remake, you just can’t. The British version just finished its third season which is kinda perfect – it means you’ll be able to watch all three seasons in succession, but will likely finish watching them and be desperate for more. By that time, the American version will have finished its first season and you’ll be just desperate enough to watch it to tide you over. See? PERFECT PLAN.
Unfortunately, what this means for me is that the American version is all I have to cling to for the next five weeks. And after that, I’m screwed. Which also means that come April/May, I’ll be finding myself a new obsession. Here’s hoping it doesn’t consume me like all my past ones. Oh, who am I kidding…